The Law of Anti-Attraction

image of a tiara
I recently got an email from someone whose comments aren’t going through on that other blog I write for.

I let him know that the spam plugin Akismet was probably snagging them, and he responded to let me know that was a “piss poor” answer.

Apparently I should dig through the tens of thousands of spam messages to find his comments. Which, given the tone of his email, I’m sure were constructive and insightful.

No one owes you their attention

Are your ads being blocked by spam blockers? Sorry, web visitors don’t accept your premise that they’re obliged to read ads on your site.

Not getting the comments or retweets you want on your blog posts? Your readers voted with their response (or lack of response) — while they may have enjoyed your content, it didn’t move them to take action.

Not getting personal attention from that individual you admire? It bites (and trust me, I’ve been right there with you), but you simply haven’t done anything remarkable enough to snag their attention. Not yet.

(Another possibility is that you just haven’t given things enough time.)

Good manners help. A lot

There is one proven way to capture attention — throw a tantrum. It works brilliantly.

Say some nasty things about that guru and you’ll pop up in his Google alerts. You may very well give him heartburn for a couple of days. If you’re obnoxious enough, your name could certainly stick in his mind.

But since you are not three and the guru is presumably not your parent, an ugly tantrum doesn’t do anything to get you what you actually want, which is positive attention.

Almost everyone who contacts me is lovely and polite. But of course, which messages do I remember the most vividly? The ones who tell me my answers are piss poor, or call me various kinds of names.

My patience for these evaporated maybe six months ago. And my kid taught me long ago not to reward tantrums.

Attention is not magic fairy dust

This may seem a little snarky, but it isn’t meant that way.

Something I’ve noticed at conferences and other venues is that we all have a tendency to think that if we can just get five minutes in front of that super successful person (or that person whose outlook we think is really cool), everything is going to go differently.

I got really lucky when I started this blog.

My very first commenter was Seth Godin. (As Brian enjoys pointing out, the blog at that point was something of a shrine to Seth. He showed up to give a friendly word.)

A few months later, I even managed to entice him to link to me, by writing a thoughtful post about a book he’d just published. That post got a ton of traffic for about a week, more traffic than I could ever have dreamed of getting at the time.

What would be different if those two things hadn’t happened?

What if Godin had never commented on the blog, and had never gone on to send me a link?

What would change about the way I run my business? About the timing of when I was able to quit the day job? About the number of spots in my courses that I’m able to sell? About my cash flow or monthly revenue? About how much I enjoy what I do?


No choirs of angels came to appoint me with success. No doors swung open to lead me to fame and wealth.

It wasn’t my “lucky break.” It wasn’t a break. It was just some attention from one smart guy.

Mostly, what I got out of it was encouragement. Which is valuable. It was damned exciting to get that attention from someone I admire so much, and it gave me great pleasure.

But encouragement from a “brush with a guru” lasts for a few weeks. Maybe a month.

You know what’s lasted for years now, with no signs of waning?

Encouragement and support from friends and peers. Folks like Naomi and Dave and Jon and Charlie. (If I start trying to name everyone on that list, we’ll be here until December, so just realize that this is a small subset.)

Some of them started before I did, some after. None of them lives on Mount Olympus. We were just folks trying to figure out how to do business and blogging.

That’s all the gurus are as well. They don’t have a magic new flavor of success dust that they can offer you.

When they do give you their best advice, it’ll be boring

  • Work really hard.
  • Be yourself.
  • Do a better job on the fundamentals.
  • Give before you ask.
  • Don’t give up.

Yawn, right?

But that’s the only advice they can give you. It’s the best advice they have. That’s why it’s a cliché. There’s not some secret guru advice that they’re holding back.

What’s the law of anti-attraction?

If there’s a quality that will repel the attention, the connection, and the success you want, it’s an attitude of entitlement.

The person you admire so much, both personally and professionally? Loathes an attitude of entitlement. Without knowing anything else about that person, I can tell you this with perfect certainty.

(If you want more evidence, check out this excellent compilation from Tamar Weinberg about how to get an influencer’s attention.)

I’m certainly not saying you don’t deserve the best

You absolutely deserve the best. You’re amazing.

If you work hard and are true to yourself and do a better job on the fundamentals and give before you ask and don’t give up, I have complete confidence that you will receive the best.

None of us gets the goodies because we’re born talented. (I’m writing a lesson for my free e-course about Carol Dweck’s work on the fixed versus the growth mindset, which I think plays a major part in this. Expect much more about this in the future, because I think it’s one of the few actual magic secret keys to success. In the mean time, pick up her book Mindset, or at least check out her site.)

So don’t worry so much about whether or not you innately “deserve” anything, good or bad. Instead, get obsessed with making yourself better, making your projects more remarkable, becoming more skilled, doing better work, serving more people in a more profound way.

And be too damned stubborn to quit.

How about you, any amazing examples of entitlement mentality that you’ve run into recently? If you share them in the comments, I promise to wince in sympathy.


  1. David Yorka says:

    WOW, Thank you for the breath of fresh air, not to mention the long list of quality comments that gives me a rush of positive energy.

    Community Action Hero

  2. Loved this post. What makes me sad about people trying so hard to impress the hot shots is that they don’t seem to value the support of their friends and peers very much. But ongoing support from people who care about you is far more valuable than a “brush with a guru.” Not saying that a brush with a guru wouldn’t be delightful, though. :)

  3. Amy Harrison says:

    Sometimes rudeness comes from frustration or a desperation to make that connection, any connection.

    With good manners and ploughing your energy into what you love doing, you’ll be able to make more relevant and better connections with your heroes when the time is right.
    .-= Amy Harrison´s last blog ..Are You Showing Up For Your Dreams? =-.

  4. I recently watched Will Smith’s video collage of different interviews. One of his quotes was: “Where other guys sleeping, I am working; where other guys eating, I am working.” And that was his true reason for success.

    Sense of entitlement will never get us anywhere, although I must confess, stomping my feet and screaming on top of my lungs is sometime the urge I have to fight.

    No matter how talented you are, your talent will fail you if you are not skilled. And getting skills requires work.

    Great post!

    Ana Hoffman/YourNetBiz
    .-= Ana Hoffman YourNetBiz ´s last blog ..YouTube Video Marketing Secrets: Top 10 Ways to Drive Traffic To YouTube Channel =-.

  5. Christy says:

    Excellent. Just excellent.

    Thank you.

    That is all.

    .-= Christy´s last blog ..Editing Audio – Part 1 =-.

  6. This definitely resonates. I have come to the conclusion that the entitlement mindset is like a creeping cancer of the mind and soul… and that escaping it is one of the keys to transcending our fears and limitations. I have never taken it to the kind of extremes you outline above, being a generally polite and congenial person (hey, I’m Canadian, it comes easily to us)… but here’s how it manifests itself for me: jealousy. I don’t feel that the world owes me anything, but when I see people having the kind of success I would like to be having in a given arena, I have a kneejerk reaction of jealousy, a what-have-they-got-that-I-haven’t kind of thing.

    I’ve known for years that this is totally unproductive (actually, anti-productive) but I’ve begun to realize that it also infects and sabotages my creative process, which is even more unacceptable to me. More importantly, I’m finally beginning to learn how to transcend it.

    I’ll definitely check out Carol Dweck’s work. For my own part, this will be one of a number of issues I’ll be exploring in a free manifesto on creativity, to be released sometime later this spring.

    • Michelle says:

      I can definitely relate to what Tobias is saying. While stomping my feet and whining isn’t something I do (often), I do find myself in the grip of the ugly green monster of jealousy.

      As a newbie trying to make my presence (work) known, I often find myself irritated that someone else ‘made it’ while I’m still plugging away.

  7. Ken Siew says:

    Wow this is an inspiring and educational post Sonia! I can resonate with the big idea myself. After years of reading books and blogs and magazines and talking to people and doing everything else to find the “Secrets of Success”, I realized that there is NO secrets of success.

    Sad to know, but the true gurus will only keep telling you the same advice: follow your passion, work super hard, don’t give up. Is it worth it to pay to hear the same thing from them? Sometimes, when you’re losing your motivation and get stuck. But often, no. You just need to be patient and keep working at it, and do the real work.

    And Sonia, thanks for your advice on everything. It’s been wonderful learning from you. :-)
    .-= Ken Siew´s last blog ..How You Can Spend, Save, and Earn Half A Million Dollars =-.

  8. Valentina says:

    Hi Sonia,
    Found you via Dave over at Website in a Weekend … so glad I did. You’ve hit the nail on the head.

    There are people out there that make a lot of money bashing anything and everything they can. That boggles the mind (at least it does mine). Not that they are bashing, but that they make a lot of money doing so. What that tells me is that there are a lot of angry people who feel that they are not getting their share of success/money/happiness/etc. and they relate with the bashers, they feel that the bashers are their flag bearers. Such a shame.

    High fives all around to you. I have personally decided that from now on whether I write or speak in public that I will try to raise the bar without putting on the rose colored glasses … people need to know that there is no gimme but that if they are willing to put in the time and the effort, eventually the train will pull into the station.
    .-= Valentina´s last blog ..Five Basic Steps to Online Networking =-.

  9. You always make me feel that the playing field (is) level:-)

    .-= Don of the desert´s last blog ..Your video solution =-.

  10. Susan says:

    Finally. Thanks for telling me I don’t need to worry over attracting some serious, kick-ass bloggers. I’ve only ever linked to one, and it was b/c it was relevant and felt I needed to include him to tell the story.

    It’s easy to forget there really is no competition if you’re being yourself and doing what you were intended to do.

  11. Helen Keevy says:

    Sonia, there is so much on the net that I rarely find I read something that really resonates with me at the right time. This article was it. Today was obviously my lucky day.

  12. Nice article Sonia.

    I think its just human nature to demand attention from others and we experience a feeling of grand confirmation when a “guru” acknowledges what we are doing with our businesses. If we “know ourselves” and believe firmly in what we want and need to achieve, then that word of acceptance from the guru does not matter.

    I’ll admit that even today I experienced that feeling of entitlement as I have been trying to connect with a business person I admire but have not been getting any responses.

    We just need to simply have a never-ending supply of belief in ourselves and hold firmly the vision we have for our lives and business.

    Keep up the great work Sonia.
    .-= Robyn from Sam’s Web Guide´s last blog ..Will Social Media Marketing Consistently Outperform Search Engine Optimization? =-.

  13. Sonia,

    Thank you for this insightful article that is so on-point for all of us to remember. You make it clear that no matter how much encouragement and knowledge we gain from others, we can only be remarkable in our own way by taking care of the basics, working hard and above all else being consistent and patient.

    If there were a magic pill the power of it would probably kill us in one dose. It’s the work we do along the way, the skills we hone and the wisdom we develop that supports and sustains the success we eventually enjoy.
    .-= Flora Morris Brown, Ph.D.´s last blog ..3 Happiness Myths Debunked =-.

  14. cinderkeys says:

    Flora: Just sent your second paragraph to my bandmate as a quote of the day. Good insight.
    .-= cinderkeys´s last blog ..Ripple effect =-.

  15. hi sonia–

    i’m new here, and late to the party, but i just wanted to say thank you for the profound message. i couldn’t agree more about relationship building, knowing where your place is, and conducting yourself with as much grace and poise, as possible, is key for any endeavor in life.

    thank you!

  16. Conor Neill says:

    Great post. I remember there was a book that was once recommended to me called “don’t sweat the small stuff”. I never did get to read it – but life’s experience has sort of taught me that it is the small stuff that truly counts in the end. I love your 5 bits of “friend’s advice”. True. I will try to stop searching for the magic bullet or the shortcut to success ;-) (although I do dream that one day I will be “found”)

  17. How refreshing to be sent to a link and find something truly engaging and interesting to read. It has been a pleasure to visit here. My heartfelt thanks to you!
    Kirsten Plotkin Healthy Lifestyle´s last [type] ..Lifestyle news for cheaters!

  18. Bunny says:

    Great post! Sometimes I feel like I’m the only idiot out there slogging my way through the morass of new information required to take really good care of my clients. I especially like the “Give Before You Ask” and “Never Give Up” suggestions.

  19. Sonia, I’ve just discovered your blog (through Copyblogger). I’m a fan of Seth’s books too. Am getting a lot from your posts – thanks for being who you are and putting in the time and hard work to help others.

    I paint with a guy who is called the greatest living painter (Richard Schmid) and artists erroneously think that if they can just get 5 minutes with him, their art will be discovered or he’ll invite them to join his small group of painters. The fact is that he talks to so many artists at events that he can’t possibly remember them all.

    That’s great that Seth linked to your blog, but I know what you mean about the effects not lasting long. In today’s blog world, very little lasts very long – I write for Fine Art Views and when the editor reposts a former post, the readers don’t remember it even if it was posted a month before. That’s why we need to make sure the content sticks in the minds of our readers – and that takes a lot of thought, sweat and skill.

    Thanks again… you’ve hung in there, developed your skill, and that has made all the difference. (to us)

  20. Brad White says:

    Great post! The secrets of success are very simple and straight-forward, but how you apply them is a never-ending adventure in the infinite. That’s why I make it a daily activity to read your blog, read Chris’ blog, visit, be around successful people, and devour every how-to book I can find. I am CONSTANTLY learning new ways to give first! I am perpetually re-learning the fundamentals. I learn more about myself every day. None of these are “secrets” but I owe a big thank-you to you and others that have really put a lot of energy, information, and passion out there for others to pick up!

  21. Lisa says:

    Ha, I loved it!…. Great way to put it out there. One of my quotes has been. “No one owes you a damm thing,”. If we’re as remarkable as we think we are, the right people wil notice. Those right people don’t necessarily have to be people of infuence. I’ts works in conjunction with how we treat all people, even the ones that can’t, refer us, connect us with, put in a good word, or introduce us too, that in the long run get us notice by the people who could. Some of the most infuencial people are people like myself, open, down to earth,straight forward folk, that aren’nt afraid to connect people and services together just because… I myself may not be a big wig ,but I consider myself a valuable person of intrest, why because I love too hook people up,so to speak. I am natural relator and the law of attraction,has allowed me to meet a lot of people, knowing me is a blessing because my mind and modivation benifit anyone who I ever come across. So lol love your attitude!

  22. Emily Rose says:

    I want to thank you for the links, and the free e-course you created, I am signing up for it!

    I am doing everything I can to learn learn learn before I implement things I don’t know. Yes I am beginning but that doesn’t mean i have to start of on a bad foot. I’ve already tripped over my feet for a long time now, and I need the encouragement to keep going, so thank you for this post!


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